13 users responded in this post

JTF said in February 14th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

The website docsouth is certainly the most interesting website. The way it is set up really helps students navigate the website and understand what they are researching. A few topics really stood out to me when I was browsing this website. The first was Slavery-Judicial Laws. They were particularly interesting to read and review the documents written about them. They had all different kinds of rules set up for slaves to follow depending on where they lived in the South or even other countries such as Cuba. Also I found some very interesting article’s on slaves and the songs they would sing in the field or at night when they would sit around and talk.
I was able to locate multiple documents about slaves and their songs. I found one that was very interesting to me and that one was written by M.F. Armstrong and Helen W. Ludlow. It is called I Hope Mother will be there. It was very interesting and is part of a book called Hampton and it’s students which contains multiple texts and pictures of slaves and where they lived and the white/black children in school. It had some great insight to Southern life for both people was like during the antebellum period.

KN said in February 15th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I think both of the websites are very helpful for students. It’s a neat concept to have documents at your fingertips. For both websites, the more specific you were, the more successful you were. That could be a potential issue for someone doing more general research. In the Documents of the American south, articles were easily searchable by topic though I had trouble zeroing in on my project topic of white mistresses and their relationships with slaves. I had a difficult time sifting through all the articles. I clicked on a “Negro Nurse Text…” but it took up entire screen and was difficult to read (that could just be my computer though). Still, there was a lot of valuable information on the purchasing of African American mistresses. One artical I found interesting that didnt have to do with my topic was Mattie Jackson: Her Parentage and her Eighteen years in slavery.I found it interesting even though it was a summeyr of her writing. It highlights the profound impact that her family had on her during her life – specifically her mother. She emphasizes her growing agitation towards rebellion during the years leading up to the end of the war.
On Slavery and Abolition in the US, I thought it was really neat to be able to read full texts without having the actual book. It was obviously more specific in that I could search only book titles and not general topics.

tkacyon said in February 15th, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Both websites are useful and helpful in researching for project topics. DocSouth seems to have more information and is more helpful is finding information. The downside to both sites being so specific in searches is that when the person researching would need to find general information to lead into their story. These sites contain so much information, but it’s super specific so trying to find a generalized fact or statement proves to be difficult. The Slavery and Abolition page does not contain nearly as much information as the DocSouth page, but is still helpful in its own way, but to really get information off that page you need to know more specific details about exactly what you’re looking up, rather than just your topic i.e. authors, books and titles. Despite the minor issues that I encountered, I feel that both sites are extremely useful in helping students to research and find specific information on specific topics relating to the Civil War Era.

Benjamin Butler said in February 15th, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I agree with the above poster that the DocSouth website is more interesting. Not only is it easier to navigate, but when I clicked on “Collections”, I was faced with a collection of primary sources dealing directly with the topic I am most interested in pursuing for my Slavery Project, the Church in the Southern Black Community. I was planning on doing a project that was in some way related to religion among slaves, and these primary sources will greatly benefit my research. That is not to say that the other site is bad. It focuses much more on the abolition side of slavery (one hint would be the title of the site), while DocSouth has a broader overview of the South and southern life, as well as an enormous collection of slave narratives. I have to say I will be spending some major time on DocSouth as I pursue my topic further.

KTC said in February 15th, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I looked at the Slavery and abolition website from Dickinson College, and it is a great source for students. Also, those digitalized documents gave researchers many great conveniences. The document I checked out is my bondage and my freedom by Fredrick Douglass. To my surprise this website provides the full edition, instead of a limited snapshot like the google book. This book was published in 1855 and was shown in a very good condition. The search engine was well built and very helpful. I can typed a key word and get many corresponding pages. The only thing I can suggest is to make the images in the books searchable. This would be very useful for students who want to make an imovie or Microsoft Photoshop project. Moreover, the images from these books are more reliable than the pictures found in the google image. Overall, this website is amazing.

Takehiko Takahashi said in February 15th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I found the website on Slavery & Abolition to be particularly useful. In the past, I have found reading books and lengthy documents online to be time consuming and cumbersome. However, this website does an excellent job enabling the original source material to be placed on the web in a format that can be accessed easily. The font is not too small and the pages are not slanted or crocked. The documents that I explored on this site included a book titled Fugitive Slaves (1619-1865) and a narrative on Sojourner Truth, one of the most famous African-American women abolitionists. Both of these sources made me more aware of the legal dilemmas and problems that blacks faced in the north. For example, Sojourner Truth’s narrative stated that she was born a slave in New York in the last years of the 18th century and did not gain her freedom until the 1820s when slavery was outlawed in New York entirely. Fugitive Slaves elaborated on all the legal hassles that blacks faced after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in which some free blacks were forced back into slavery under the law. While I found the DocSouth website to be rich in firsthand accounts, I found that website more difficult to navigate and find information that would be useful to me.

hirschj said in February 15th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I first went to DocSouth to look for information on the slave narratives. I remembered that in Walter Johnson’s book about the slave trade entitled, Soul by Soul a slave named Solomon Northup was mentioned many times. Northup wrote down his experiences as a slave, and I decided to type his name into the DocSouth search window. I was expecting to find his narratives and maybe a few other little articles, but my general search turned up 217 hits. I was very impressed with the variety of sources that were available on this website. For example, when I clicked on the first link, it brought me to a page connecting me to not only his actual narrative, but many scholarly articles about him, as well as a short biography of his life as a slave. I found the layout of this site very useful, and overall I was pleased with this website.
The Slavery and Abolition Website was also useful. However, I found this website a bit more complex to use and found its layout more confusing. For example, I could not find Solomon Northup’s narrative on this website. I typed his name into “Author” and no documents appeared. However, the DocSouth website may be more expansive while the Slavery and Abolition Website is a newer site that may not be finished. While the Slavery and Abolition website only presented the documents upon the search, the DocSouth website allowed the researcher to get to a “homepage” of Solomon Northup and find other related scholarly articles and pieces that Northup wrote. The DocSouth page was laid out very accessibly and allowed the researcher to probe further into the topic. I was impressed with the breadth of links I received upon typing “Slave Narratives” into the Slavery and Abolition Website. Overall, I think that the internet affords students a great opportunity to further their research and even though reading a screen is much harder than reading a book, the internet allows for quick and easy searching.

stancoc said in February 15th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

The Documenting The American South website was far more useful than the Slavery in The US site. However, the Documenting the South website was fairly hard to navigate. It could be improved by adding an advanced search option so users could narrow their searches.
This website was useful to find the full text of documents. In this way I was able to read some of the text of John Hawkins Simpson’s narrative about the escaped slave Dinah. This narrative is the story of Dinah which describes her life as a slave and outlines the injuries that she sustained at the hands of slave owners. This narrative was interesting, especially when compared with some of the images found on the docsouth website. For instance, the violence portrayed in SCENE IN THE SLAVE PEN AT WASHINGTON from Solomon Northup’s narrative was effective at showing the harshness of slavery just like in Dinah’s narrative.

chobanim said in February 15th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Although both websites were appealing, they also each focus on separate perspectives of the Civil War era. For my project I will likely use the DocSouth site in order to research southern women, specifically slave mistresses, and their relationship to slaves and the institution of slavery. The DocSouth website provided Mary Chesnut’s “A Diary from Dixie” in full text, along with various images. I found the website overall to be straightforward, as well as it provided numerous sources on various topics on the antebellum South. I found that the site also gave links to other related topics, authors, and sources while searching one subject, so my research continued past my initial objectives.
Although my potential research, as of yet, may not require me to browse the Slavery And Abolition website, I also found the site to be relatively easy to navigate. It seems to provide less sources than the DocSouth site, but the documents Slavery and Abolition offered were worthwhile and presented well. I understand that the Slavery and Abolition site is newer, so the fact it contained less sources is acceptable.
Overall, I greatly appreciate being introduced to the two websites, and plan on using at least one in my future research. Having primary documents available to read online on profession websites is quite a privilege for students today.

Evil Jared said in February 16th, 2010 at 9:59 am

I found that both websites provide a large amount of information in a very easily accessed way. I found the collections page in DocSouth to be particular useful especially since each collection has an introduction and, in the case of “the Church in the Southern Black Community,” there is a guide with sources for each subtopic related to religion. I will most likely explore the religion in slavery topic further and use this website exhaustively in my project. I also found the other website to be useful and well organized, however it was fairly limited in content.

pg said in February 16th, 2010 at 11:01 am

Although I was able to find relevant information to my planned topic, Deep South Runaways, on both websites, I found that the DocSouth website had much more material. In my project I will likely be using several slave narratives, of which DocSouth had many. The Slavery & Abolition website on the other hand had these in limited quantities, about five in total. I also found DocSouth to be more user friendly. Using the collections feature I was quickly able to hone in on material by subject and then search for other subjects within that one. For example I clicked on the North American Slave Narratives tab and subsequently clicked on Browse Images by Subject. I scrolled down to alphabetically to S where I found slave narratives from various states. Indeed there were slave narratives from Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, all important regions in my Deep South Runaways topic. I will certainly use this tool in my project. The Slavery & Abolition website had no such feature.

T. Smith said in February 16th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I have had some trouble finding information that is specific to my topic from either of the web sites. Even when I used footnotes from Johnson’s book to produce specific sources to search, I found it difficult to find specifically what I was looking for – these are sources that I did find using a general google search, either in JSTOR or elsewhere.
Regardless, I do feel that both are fairly easy to search the Slavery and Abolition site- contrary to what many people are saying – I think may be easier to navigate based on its various searching abilities and it is not limited to just browsing. However, the DocSouth site was much more extensive (which may have led to my searching frustrations, and may have made Slavery and Abolition easier to search) and it is ultimately a much more valuable resource as a result. Hopefully as the project progresses, I will be able to find significant primary sources to help embellish my project to make it as good as it can be.

G Mazzoli said in February 16th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

After first visiting the DocSouth website, I was immediately drawn to the “collections” tab. As I’m currently searching for a topic to research for my slavery project, I thought that a collection of sources could help guide me into some sort of direction. Quickly glancing through the “Church in the Southern Black Community” collection, I was amazed at how well organized the documents were. In addition, DocSouth provides a lengthy overview of the collection, as well as simply allowing the reader to browse the specific documents alphabetically. However, the most valuable part in my mind was the “guide to religious content in slave narratives”. This breaks down religious content in every slave narrative on the site, such as “funerals” and “conversion experience”, giving a very easy guide to additional sources were a student inclined to research specific parts of religion and slavery in more detail.
Slavery & Abolition may not be as well organized, but nevertheless has a great deal of information. I did a quick search of “slavery and religion” and came up with a number of different sources that I could browse more carefully. A reader could potentially keep refining their search in the advanced search function to find more and more relevant sources.

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